Shopping: Selling to ThredUP (Review)

A few months ago, when I was deep in the throes of the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I sold a bunch of clothing I no longer wanted to Twice, an online secondhand shop. I really liked the experience, got more than $100 for my stuff, and was happy to repeat it again.

Except that in the months between April (when I wrote my review) and August (when I did a second sweep of my closet), Twice shut down. The people behind it aren’t gone for good, they’ve just moved on to working with eBay on a similar model that seems to only accept expensive designer gear.

I was left to look elsewhere, which is how I found ThredUP. The concept of ThredUP is pretty similar to Twice. You ask for a bag and a pre-printed shipping label, they send it to you, you send it back, and you wait.

The big difference between the two is the amount I ended up getting. I sent 25 items to Twice, they gave me something like $122 or thereabouts and bought almost everything. I sent 17 items to ThredUP, they bought 8 (or almost exactly 50 percent), and gave me:

ThredUP earnings. $32.72
ThredUP earnings. $32.72

Yeah. Not too much, but I did take it. I don’t know what happened to the 8 items they didn’t buy, or why they didn’t buy them, but oh well. ThredUP gives you the option of purchasing “Return Assurance” for $12.99, but then you get back stuff you didn’t want and might end up losing money on the process.

Another big different between ThredUP and the now-gone Twice is how you get your money. If you cashed out with Twice, you lost a percentage of your offer. With ThredUP, your earnings are pretty much the same if you pick store credit or cash. The major difference is that you need to wait 14 days before you can “cash out” and you do have to pay 2 percent for PayPal, which in my case, was about 60 cents. You can also see how much your items are sold for and track their progress on the site. At the time of writing this post, half of my items have sold and the other four are still available.

One thing I noticed before I sent my bag in is that there’s fine print on the site about the sizes they are more likely not to accept. Apparently, ThredUP is more picky about smaller sizes in a number of categories, as apparently, those sizes are less likely to sell, but they receive a lot of them. Reading that actually made me nervous to send them anything, but in the end, it worked out OK. $32 isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing. And now I can at least see what happens to my former clothing. I hope they all find happy homes.

 

 

 

Shopping: J.Crew Fall 2015

I’m not supposed to do any shopping this month (more on that later), but then J.Crew released this blazer in tweed, with elbow patches, and announced a 25% off sale. Admittedly, 25% off is nothing at J.Crew, when things are often marked down 30 to 75% off, but sometimes things sell out, and it seemed that would be the case with the Campbell Blazer, especially in the Tall size range.

I was all set to order the blazer online on Thursday night, but convinced myself to sleep on it, since I’m trying to curb my spending. In some ways it’s good that I slept on it and in some ways it’s bad: I woke up to find that the blazer was suddenly excluded from the promotion.

Boo on that. I decided to pop into the store in Philly to see if they  had the blazer, if a regular size would work on me, and if it was 25% off.

As it turns out, I’m actually not that keen on the fit and cut of it, so in the end, I’m glad the vanishing promo kept me from ordering.

J.Crew Campbell blazer in tweed, size 6.
J.Crew Campbell blazer in tweed, size 6.
J.Crew Campbell Blazer in tweed, size 4
J.Crew Campbell Blazer in tweed, size 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gah, it looks pretty awful. Particularly in the size 6, on the left. The 4 looks better, but only because I’m wearing a different skirt and am standing at a slight angle. Maybe it looks better unbuttoned, but I didn’t think to snap any pictures of that. I’m really glad I didn’t order the Tall 6, as both the regular 4 and 6 were a bit roomy on me.

As a side note, the tweed comes from Abraham Moon & Sons, which is the same tweed-maker Boden uses for its British Tweed Blazers. Boden’s blazers are cut differently, they are shorter and more shapely. I might give that a try.

Usually, when I’m at J.Crew, the associates ignore me, which I kinda like, especially since these days I rarely buy anything there. This last time, the associate was very  helpful, and went out of her way to recommend stuff for me to try. Unfortunately, one of her recommendations was a Tippi sweater.

J.crew Tippi sweater
J.crew Tippi sweater

Tippis just never work for me.  They always add weight to my hips and waist area. I’m showing you all the picture of it tucked into the Donegal Tweed Skirt because the photo of it untucked was just too awful. The tucked-in picture looks bad — you can see the sweater bunched up beneath the waist of the skirt.

The trip wasn’t all gloom and doom, though. I liked the dark green version of the tweed pencil skirt when it was pictured online and just happened to chance on the black and grey version in store. The fabric, a blend of wool/poly/silk is really soft to the touch and has a good weight. In one of the online reviews, someone said it felt like wearing a carpet. But I didn’t find that to be true. The 6 fit pretty well in the hips, but was a little loose in the waist.

J.crew Drapey v-neck silk blouse
J.crew Drapey v-neck silk blouse

I also really liked the drapey v-neck silk blouse. The silk is a nice weight and has a good hand, although I didn’t look at the stitching that closely. I’m in a 4 here, and there was just enough drape without it being too blousy. The sleeves were also a good length.

J.Crew keeps saying how it’s returning to the classics, and in fact, that’s the theme of its latest catalog. With the exception of the blazer, everything I tried on fit well and was made of quality-ish materials (the jury is still out on the tweed pencil skirt. I do wonder how it would  hold up). The blazer itself was fine, I just didn’t like the fit. I didn’t buy anything this time, but I might in the future.

Shopping: Rent the Runway Review

I’ve been a bridesmaid once. I know, lucky me, plenty of my friends have had to do it so many times that their closets are full of dresses they’ll never wear again. I had a bridesmaid dress, it was long, puffy and strapless. Even if an occasion  came up during which I could wear the dress again, I wouldn’t. So, I sold the dress on eBay for $10 and probably  made someone really happy.

Although I’m not bridesmaid material, I do go to the occasional wedding. Which usually means finding something to wear. While at one point I was OK with  buying a new dress if needed, this summer I got to the point where I just didn’t want to do it any more. Trying on a lot of dresses is stressful, and then you’re stuck with something you  may or may not ever wear again.

It started with an invitation to a “black tie optional” wedding. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of buying a gown I wouldn’t wear again. Thankfully, there’s Rent the Runway, which has plenty of formal gowns available for rent. I found and reserved this Badgley Mischka gown and everything was super easy. There are notes on the site that let you know how the dress fits and that recommend sizing up or down as a backup. You get an extra size for free, and if you really want to play it safe, you can order a backup dress in another style for $35 more.

I ended up getting the backup size, and backup dress that first time around, even though I ended up wearing my first pick in my usual size. I also signed up for a PRO account, which costs $30 per year, but gives you free shipping and insurance on orders, plus you get a voucher for your birthday month. Getting the PRO option made sense, since I had another wedding to go to, this one in September.  (Shipping and insurance combined add up to $14.95 per order).

rent_the_runway_nanette_lepore_alina_spearmint_dress

The September wedding was not black tie, thank God. I ended up getting this Nanette Lepore dress, in mint green. It’s not my usual style, and I felt self-conscious at first, but the dress grew on me. I skipped the backup dress style this time and simply got two of the same dress in my usual size and one size down, based on Rent the Runway’s recommendations. My usual size ended up being fine.

There was a bit of a difference between my order at the beginning of the summer and the September order. The first order came packed in a box and included a plastic UPS bag for sending the dresses back to RTR. The second order came packed in a folded up garment bag/carrying case made of a heavy weight blue fabric. Dresses show up at your door on hangers and you can hang up the package like any other garment bag. When it’s time to return your dresses to RTR, you shove them into the bottom of the bag, without their hangers, then fold up the bag, tuck in the handles and zip everything up. There’s even a little zipper lock to use, to keep anyone from stealing the dresses when they are on their way back to RTR.

rent-the-runway-zipper-lock

Returning the dresses was a breeze, at least for me. The main UPS hub for Philly is pretty close to my house. I walked over there on Sunday (per the rental, I was supposed to send off the dresses by noon on Monday), and pushed the blue bag into UPS’ drop box.

I’ll admit, it is a bit weird to think about how many other people have worn the same dress. The Nanette Lepore dress did smell very strongly of dry cleaners when I first took it out of the packaging, but that scent faded over time. Still, the convenience, the cost and the fact that I don’t have a bunch of dresses cluttering up my closet makes RTR very worth it.

Capsule Wardrobe: Week 1

capsule_wardrobe_week1
(Left to right) Monday’s outfit, Tuesday’s outfit, Wednesday’s outfit, Thursday’s outfit, Friday’s outfit

I’m very much not planning on doing a wrap up of my capsule wardrobe each week. Taking a picture of my outfit each day was such a pain. I can’t imagine doing it every day for the next three months.  But, I did want to do a quick recap and reflection on how the first week went.

To sum it up: not too well. It’s September, but this week ended up being one of the hottest so far this summer, which was challenging because a good portion of my capsule is fall-focused clothing and I didn’t include any very lightweight stuff in it, aside from the viscose shirt seen in Thursday’s outfit.

Another problem with the capsule: I felt bored. I kept wanting to cheat and wear something not in the capsule. Actually, the shirt I wore on Wednesday isn’t in the capsule. I pulled it out of summer clothing because it was a hot day (not that that particular shirt is particularly lightweight, it’s silk, and heavy. I ended up having to change out of it before leaving the house to go out that evening).

Maybe when the temperature dip below 90 or so degrees, sticking with the capsule will be more fun, since I’ll actually get to layer and wear more than just sleeveless shirts and skirts. For now, though, my big question is: Will I make it through the season with just 41 pieces of clothing?

What I’m wearing:

  • Monday’s outfit: Top, Banana Republic (old), Skirt, Banana Republic
  • Tuesday’s outfit: Top, Banana Republic (old), Skirt, BCBGMaxAzria (way old, I’ve had this since 2010)
  • Wednesday’s outfit: Top, Equipment (available here), Skirt, J.Crew
  • Thursday’s outfit: Top, Boden (here), Skirt, Anthropologie (old)
  • Friday’s outfit: T-Shirt, J.Crew (similar here), Skirt,  J.Crew (old)

Shopping: Banana Republic

There was a time when most of my wardrobe came from Banana Republic. Although I still have a few pieces from the store, that’s really not the case any more. The amount I’ve spent at Banana has also dropped drastically. For the past few years, I’ve (embarrassingly enough) qualified for Silver status on my Gap card, all because of purchases made at BR. This year, I won’t come anywhere qualifying (and that’s OK — all it really does is give you free shipping on any order and a few other features that I don’t use).

I think one of the reasons why I’ve lost interest in the store is that a lot of it is the same old, same old, even though they’ve brought  in Marissa Webb and things are supposed to get better. Another part of it is that  a lot of the things I try on just don’t work for me.

BananaRepublic_cobalt_pencilskirt_6 BananaRepublic_cobalt_pencilskirt_8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case in point: the blue square jacquard pencil skirt. I really liked the way the skirt looked on the site, but in person it was just eh.

A part of the problem is the fit of the skirt. A few reviews had posted before I ordered, noting that it ran small. Some people claimed to need two sizes above their usual BR size. To play it safe, I ordered a 6 (my usual size, pictured on the left), and an 8 (on the right).

Both kind of fit, but in different ways. The 6 was very fitted at the waist, meaning I wouldn’t be able to wear it on a “puffy” day. The 8 was looser at the waist in a way that just looked weird. You can see the weirdness of the waist better in the photo below.

everlane_tank_tucked

The waist is sitting away from my body and it’s my hips that are doing the work of holding up the skirt.

I was curious to see if the size 6 skirt was really actually smaller than size 6 Banana of the past, so I compared it my favorite skirt from the brand, a green Sloan pencil skirt.

BananaRepublic_cobalt_skirt_comparison

The two skirts were actually pretty close in size, with the major difference being the height of the blue skirt’s waist. I guess the big issue with the new pencil skirt isn’t sizing, but the fact that I’m not used to wearing such a high waist. Suffice it to say, I returned both sizes and am not any closer to achieving silver status this year.